News / Asia

China Reports First Successful Space Docking

China says it has successfully carried out its first-ever rendezvous of two orbiting spacecraft.

Year

Event

Country

1961 1st Manned Spaceflight
Valentina Tereshkova, USSR/Russia
1st American Manned Spaceflight Alan Shepard, US
1962 1st American to Orbit Earth
John Glenn, US
1963 1st Woman in Space
Valentina Tereshkova, USSR/Russia
1965 1st-Ever Spacewalk
Alexei Leonov, USSR/Russia
First American Spacewalk Edward White, US
1967 1st Spaceflight Fatality
Vladimir Komarov, USSR/Russia
Apollo 1 Tragedy US
1968 1st Manned Lunar Mission Apollo 8, US
1969 1st Manned Lunar Landing Apollo 11, US
1975 1st Joint US-Soviet Mission
Apollo-Soyuz, USSR/Russia-US
1981
1st Launch of Space Shuttle Columbia, US
1983
1st US Female Astronaut Sally Ride, US
1986
Space Shuttle Challenger Tragedy
US
2000
1st Permanent International Space Station Crew US
2003
Space Shuttle Columbia Tragedy
US
1st Chinese Manned Spaceflight Shenzhou 5, China
2004
1st Commercial Human Spaceflight
SpaceShip One, US
2011
st US Space Shuttle Flight
Atlantis, US
1st Docking of Chinese Spacecraft Unmanned, China

Officials say the unmanned Shenzhou-8 spacecraft docked with the experimental Tiangong-1 module Thursday morning about 340 kilometers above the Earth's surface. The sophisticated procedure is a critical step in China's ambitions to establish a manned space station by 2020.

The official Xinhua news agency says Premier Wen Jiabao and other top officials witnessed the historic event at the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center. President Hu Jintao sent a congratulatory message from France, where he is attending the G-20 summit.

The two joined spacecraft will orbit the Earth for 12 days before separating and repeating the procedure. After two more days together, the Shenzhou-8 will undock from the module and return to Earth.

Australian space analyst Morris Jones tells VOA the docking maneuver was a critical step forward for China's ambitous space program.

"This is a very significant step," Jones said. "Because if China could not achieve rendezvous and docking in outer space, they would be unable to operate a space laboratory, or build a space station or do anything complex in outer space. Rendezvous and docking is a basic, fundamental skill in space flight."

However, he pointed out that China is only now mastering skills that the United States and Russia have had for more than 40 years.

"I would say with the successful rendezvous and docking, China is probably at much the same level as the USA in the late 1960s," Jones noted. "Probably around the year 1967, I would say, is where China is at the moment."

China plans two more docking missions with the Tiangong-1 module next year, with at least one of them carrying a live crew that could include China's first female astronaut.  

But Jones says China has some ambitious plans for unmanned space flight as well.

"They are going to land a small robotic rover on the moon in 2013, and then a few years later we expect them to land a robotic spacecraft that will bring rock samples from the moon back to earth. China is also launching a small orbiter to Mars before the end of this month. They are doing that piggyback with the Russians. And they are also planning larger Mars probes of their own," he said.

Jones said many outside analysts believe China's long-term goal is to land astronauts on the moon.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More